Pesticides - Best Practice Guides


Emergency Procedures

Accidents can and do happen, but good planning can reduce their frequency and ensure appropriate and rapid steps are taken to deal with any incident promptly and correctly. All staff should be familiar with the farmís emergency procedures and trained in how to handle the incident.


  • Prepare a Farm Emergency Plan. Include procedures to handle pesticide emergencies. The plan should include a site map with the location oil tanks, gas cylinders, any chemicals (eg pesticides and fertilisers), water courses and drains;
  • Explain the plan and procedures to your staff. Use training and rehearsals to ensure staff understand and to check that the procedures work;
  • Use the Emergency Information Sheet in this guide to keep an up-to-date list of addresses and telephone numbers of key emergency contacts (e.g. doctor, vet, local environment agency office, police etc);
  • Keep copies of the Emergency Information Sheet and associated plans at key locations: e.g. spray store, filling area, tractor cab, farm office. Make sure your staff know where this information is kept;
  • Review plans regularly and especially after any emergency or incident;
  • Keep a detailed written record of every incident and identify and implement any necessary improvements to farm procedures;
  • Clearly signpost your premises to assist emergency services;
  • Ensure emergency and safety equipment is properly maintained and regularly checked.

All pesticide labels carry emergency numbers

Dealing with suspected poisoning

Yourself (if you are unwell during or after spraying)
  • Stop work;
  • Tell someone;
  • Seek medical help immediately. Call a doctor, NHS Direct 0845 4647 or get someone to take you to hospital;
  • Take the product label(s) and any safety data sheet(s) with you;
Someone else
  • Stop the casualty working and call for medical help immediately;
  • If casualty is conscious and mobile, take them away from the work area into shelter and then keep them warm and at rest until help arrives;
  • If casualty is unconscious or not mobile, take suitable precautions to prevent contaminating yourself and then move the casualty away to shelter. Check the breathing passages are clear and remove loose fitting, false teeth and any other obstructions in the mouth. Place casualty in the recovery position. DO NOT attempt to induce vomiting;
  • While waiting for help, remove any contaminated clothing from the casualty without contaminating yourself. Make sure the casualty keeps warm;
  • Put contaminated clothes aside (ideally in a plastic bag) for later disposal;
  • Provide the doctor or the hospital with a copy of the product label(s). If you canít do this, give them the name and/or the active ingredients of the product;
  • Inform the HSE.

First Aid
  • If breathing stops, start artificial respiration at once
  • If the heart stops, start heart massage

Dealing with personal contamination

  • Carefully remove any contaminated clothing (not necessarily just protective clothing) immediately;
  • Wash contaminated skin and hair thoroughly with clean water;
  • If eyes are contaminated, flush with clean running water for at least 15 minutes and cover with sterile or a clean non-fluffy pad;
  • Seek medical help as soon as possible. Take the product label and any safety data sheet and give them to the doctor or hospital.


  • Risks to bystanders and local residents should be considered as part of your COSHH Assessment and your Emergency Plan;
  • Consider leaving an unsprayed strip adjacent to the property of schools and hospitals and respond to reasonable requests from residents;
  • If anyone thinks they have been affected by pesticides you are using, advise them to seek medical advice immediately - contact their doctor or use NHS direct 0845 4647.
  • Provide copies of the relevant product label(s) and safety data sheets to affected bystanders or their doctors

Dealing with Fire

  • Raise the alarm;
  • Call the fire brigade, telling them that agrochemicals are involved;
  • Do not put yourself in danger or breath in any fumes; Only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so. Use dry powder extinguishers only;
  • Provide the site plan. This should show the location of any gas cylinders and chemicals or substances that may be highly flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, oxidising agents, or give off noxious fumes as well as drains and watercourses;
  • For fires in involving pesticide stores, give the Fire Officer a full list of products and active ingredients involved. If cyanide or phosphine generating products are involved, identify their location within the store.

Spillages and leaks:

  • Get other people and animals away from affected area;
  • Take steps to contain the spill;
  • Let other people know, such as the Environment Agency (in Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and in Northern Ireland, the Department of the Environment), the local Pollution Prevention Officer, the police, neighbouring farms and so on. Tell them what has been spilt, where and how much.

Containing the spill

  • Keep a spillage kit to hand including absorbent material (cat litter or sand not sawdust) brush, shovel, plastic bags and ties;
  • Put on personal protective equipment (protective gloves, rubber boots, coverall and face shield as a minimum);
  • Block drains if the spill might reach them;
  • Liquids: firstly put absorbent material round the spill, and then on it;
  • Solids: sweep up gently (do not raise dust), sprinkle absorbent material and sweep carefully again;
  • Collect all sweepings and any other contaminated materials (e.g. brushes, clothes, towels) in a strong, impermeable, marked container and dispose of using a licensed waste disposal contractor;
  • Have a copy of the product label to give to any emergency services.

Leaking containers

  • Either pour the contents of the damaged container into a sound one that originally held the same product or put the entire leaking container into an impermeable larger one and label it with the product name. Fix the product label (if usable and uncontaminated) to the container;
  • If the product can be used, do so at the earliest opportunity taking care to avoid further spillage or contamination;
  • If not usable, dispose of using a licensed waste disposal contractor.

Road Accidents

  • Keep other people and animals away from the area;
  • Ring the police, fire brigade and the environment agency. Tell them that agrochemicals are involved in the accident;
  • If you can do so safely attempt to contain any spill to prevent it from reaching drains or watercourses.
  • Provide emergency services with product labels and safety data sheets

Suspected animal poisoning

  • Get any live animals away from the pesticide or the contaminated area. Take care to avoid personal contamination (wear protective clothing if necessary). Obtain specific information from the supplierís emergency number
  • Keep the animal in shelter and at rest
  • Contact a vet immediately and, where convenient, take the animal to the surgery
  • Give the product label and safety data sheet (or at least the name of the product and its active ingredients) to the vet.
  • Avoid touching dead animals. Cover them until they can be removed or disposed of safely.
  • If appropriate report the incident to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme, or for fish the local environment agency

Dealing with theft

  • Notify farm management immediately
  • Contact police and provide a full list of products, active ingredients and quantities stolen.

 Click here for PDF version of emergency information sheet

The advice in this Guide has been prepared after consultation with the UK environment agencies, Health and Safety Executive and Pesticide Safety Directorate.

This guide was produced by the Crop Protection Association as part of the Voluntary Initiative.

The Voluntary Initiative is a programme of measure agreed by Government to minimise the environmental impact of pesticides.

© CPA, November 2005

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011